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tv   U.S. Senate 10252017  CSPAN  October 25, 2017 9:29am-11:30am EDT

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ethnically based and it's been around for a long time and is not getting better. the numbers have fallen off from 12,000 to 15,000 a day crossing to 1,000 to 3,000. even at that rate the numbers are expected to exceed a million very shortly. so, that is the bad situation that we face. second point is that we should be encouraged, however, by several things. one, the generosity of the government people and host communities of bangladesh and secondly, by the remarkable resilience of the rohingya people. that gives us hope. the third point is that we need-- >> we are going to leave the last few minutes of this hearing because the u.s. senate is about to gavel in. you can watch this on-line at anytime on type united nations in the search bar. lawmakers today will consider the nomination of scott palk,
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debate limited to 10:30 eastern today and now to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. almighty god, the foundation of
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true wisdom, you extend your powerful dominion over the universe. stand by our lawmakers and protect them with your might. lord, refresh them with your wisdom, as you prepare them not only for time but eternity. lord, we praise you for ethi ethically congruent lawmakers who in their innermost beings are true and honest. give us more senators who are true to duty as the needle to the pole. give us more legislators who are
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not afraid to call sin by its right name. lord, provide us with more patriots who will stand for right, regardless of the consequences. we pray in your sovereign name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c.,
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october 25, 2017. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable rand paul, a senator from the commonwealth of kentucky, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, president pro tempore.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the palk nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary. scott l. palk of oklahoma, to be united states district judge for the western district of oklahoma. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 10:30 a.m. will be equally divided between the two leaders or their designees.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are not. the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: senate republicans had a productive discussion with president trump yesterday about our shared agenda. we were particularly focused on
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how to bring tax relief, economic growth, and jobs to the middle class through tax reform. it's clear we share a lot of the same goals. it's clear that we're united in an effort to take more money out of washington's pockets and put it more in middle-class pockets. it's also clear that we're excited about this once-in-a-generation opportunity to get america going again and growing again and so we're watching our friends in the house with anticipation as they consider the comprehensive, responsible budget that cleared the senate last week. we anticipate they'll pass it by the end of the week. once they do, we'll have important legislative tools to move tax reform forward. that's something everyone can look forward to. more importantly, that's something the american people deserve, especially after so many years of an economy that failed to reach its potential, an economy that so often failed them.
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tax reform represents the single-most important thing we can do today to get the economy reaching for its full potential. we're looking afford to taking -- we're look forward to taking the next steps very soon to get to done. now, on another matter, i'd like to again commend president trump for the outstanding judicial nominees he's sent us this year. so far every nominee we've brought to the floor has been confirmed by a majority vote here in the senate. in some cases, those majority votes have been bipartisan and massive, like 95-1, like 99-0 -- 97-0. almost every time a judicial nominee is brought to the floor, even nominees like folks like these, nominees that both parties support, democrats three up roadblocks. for what reason? certainly not to change the outcome.
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no. like i said in many cases democrats actually support the nominees. they're just wasting more of the senate's time because they can. they're doing it again now. take the two judicial nominees currently before the senate. first, there's scott palk. after nearly two decades as a state and federal prosecutor, mr. palk has the legal skill and community support to excel as a u.s. district judge for the western district of oklahoma. the senate judiciary committee approved his nomination by a bipartisan vote of 17-3. then there's trevor mcfadden. mr. mcfadden's sterling record of public service makes him an ideal candidate for the u.s. district court for the district of columbia. not a single member -- not one -- of either party opposed him. both of these nominees should have sailed to confirmation
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yesterday. instead, democrats are forcing us to waste time so we can again arrive at the exact same conclusion but simply later this week. now, this really has got to stop. in president obama's first year in office, republicans forced this procedural hurdle for a single judicial nominee, and it was a controversial one. let me say that again. in president obama's first year in office, republicans forced the procedural hurdle we've had to endure many times for one nominee, and that nominee was controversial. in president trump's first year in office, democrats have forced this procedural hurdle for every single judicial nominee except one. even if they actually supported him or her in the end, this is just the kind of partisan game that americans are so sick of. president trump should be
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commended for his strong judicial picks. the senate's going to keep working hard to confirm them, and we're going to succeed. the only question is whether democrats are going to keep wasting more of the senate's time getting there. i hope they won't. i hope they will end these pointless games so the senate can keep its time and its focus where it belongs. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democrat leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: good morning, mr. president. now, yesterday, we all learned that our colleague, senator flake, would be retiring at the end of his term. after senator corker's announcement a few weeks ago, this was a blow, another blow to this body. senators flake and corker are both men of principle, decency, conscience. in his address here on the floor shortly after this announcement, senator flake alluded to the great figures of history who toiled at these desks to remind
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us that our time here is only temporary. he is certainly right. it should comfort him, however, that history will judge senator flake and senator corker as two men of the greatest conscience to have graced this chamber on either side of the aisle in a long time. this senate will be much poorer for their departures. now, on taxes, mr. president, last week, the senate passed one of the worst budgets in our nation's history. it excuses one of the most massive expansions of the national debt ever, $1.5 trillion. it directs the committees to take a sledgehammer to medicare and medicaid, again to the tune of $1.5 trillion, and it sets up the same awful partisan process that republicans used to try to jam health care through for tax
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cuts. the budget's now before the house. i hope every house member is taking a close look at it, and republican members who come from states like new york and new jersey, washington, california, pennsylvania, virginia, illinois, minnesota, should pay particular attention to the issue of state and local deductibility. no doubt the elimination of state and local affects states in congressional districts over the entire country. dolphins, one of the states that pays the highest -- that gets the highest break tax break from state and local is utah. 35% of utahans take it because such a large percentage tithe and they don't use the standard deduction. it affects middle-class families in every state. the state that has the lowest effect on, west virginia, it still affects 17% of families.
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i don't have the numbers in front of me, but my guess is in kentucky, the home state of our president for the moment, president of the senate, presiding officer at the moment, is probably in the 20's. but in many states, the state and local deduction is claimed by over a third of taxpayers and amounts to tens of thousands of dollars a year in deductions. in california, 34% of taxpayers take the deduction for an average of $18,400. in new jersey, 41% of taxpayers claim state and local with an average deduction of $17,850. well, faced with this, some of our colleagues are looking for a compromise. they say, well, let's just take
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away the deduction for people above 100,000, 200,000, even 400,000. or they say you can choose between taking the state and local deduction or the mortgage deduction. that one's like saying taxpayer, we'll chop your right hand off or your left hand off. we're giving you the choice. but even without the mortgage trade, a compromise doesn't work. doesn't work for a few reasons. number one, it is double taxation. you are being taxed on paying a tax. number two, for states like new york and particularly my upstate colleagues, it chases away businesses. companies don't want to locate in a place where their top executives are going to pay a lot more because they can't deduct their taxes. and third, it lowers state income so that whether you use
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the state and local deduction or not, your school board, your old building, your police, your fire will be hurt as they will be hurt by creating a huge deficit. so compromise doesn't work here. and some of -- i have named some of my republican colleagues in new york. one of them got very mad yesterday. all i would say is this. in 1986, there was a democratic reform bill led by senator bradley and congressman gephardt. i had the same -- i have had the same conviction and with the same strength and velocity opposed them taking away state and local, even though they were of my own party. and we worked hard and succeeded. tax reform passed in 1986 with ronald reagan's blessing. i supported it. it was real tax reform where you closed loopholes and lowered rates, not just gave massive tax breaks and let the deficit go
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up. but state and local was removed, was removed. and the bill still passed. so i would simply ask my colleagues, republican, to oppose their party leadership when it hurts their states and their constituent sis, as i do. back in 1986 when i was a third-term -- fourth-term congress member. now, a few members of the new york and new jersey delegation, a whole bunch in new york have come out against the elimination of state and local deductibility. i salute them. they have done what they should do. in the eyes of the founding fathers, they have represented their states and their constituents. they have not represented these hard right corporate interests, wealthy interests who just want their taxes reduced. now, are the remaining members of the republican delegation from new york and new jersey, as well as members from washington
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state and california, pennsylvania, virginia, minnesota, illinois, and all the other states going to stand up because they know this hurts middle-class constituents? this is not a tax break for the rich. the rich have lots of other big tax breaks. and the property tax that they pay is not that much in terms of their income. and by the way, so hope they will stand up like some of my courageous colleagues have in new york state and in new jersey. now, a recent study gives another reason that we don't want to eliminate the state and local deduction. a recent study by pricewaterhousecoopers found that under the republican tax plan, any income, any homeowner with an income of between $50,000 and $200,000 would see an average annual increase of $815. but here is the amazing part of
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their study. they thought home prices would fall 10%, 10.2%. that makes sense. when you're a new homeowner or buying another home, you calculate how much is my mortgage, how much are my property taxes, what deductions will i get. if you don't get the deduction, you have less money to pay the mortgage because you're paying higher taxes. so the value of demand on homes goes down. the price new home buyers are trade -- or tradeing home buyers are willing to pay is less and home prices go down. so my republican colleagues, particularly those in the house who have to vote on this bill tomorrow, you're going to hit your constituents, your middle-class and upper middle-class constituents with a double whammy if you vote for this bill. they will pay more taxes and
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their home values will go down. and home values are the rock of the middle class. that's what people work for their whole lives. the happiness someone 45 or 50 years old has they pay off their mortgage and their home is theirs is great. why delay why delay that. why impede that? why impugn that? so our republican colleagues are willing to go home and explain to their middle class constituents why their taxes are going up and their home values are going down because if they're not willing to confront that, they shouldn't vote for this bill. now, the budget is a betrayal of the middle class men and women who sent house members to congress, who sent all of us to the senate and the house. for many in the middle class, as i said, it raises taxes, erodes property values.
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and why? to lavish tax breaks for big corporations and the super rich. it's -- its main focus is to give a tax cut to corporations and the top 1%. i would say to the average american, is your number one goal reducing taxes on big corporations and the richest in america? well, that's the republican party's goal. they say they must have tax reform. it's their number one priority. and this bill, the core of it, is to cut taxes on big corporations and the wealthiest people. again, to the american people, is your number one goal the same as the republican party here in the senate and in the house? to cut taxes on the richest corporations, to cut taxes on
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the wealthiest individuals? i don't think so. do you, mr. and mrs. american, think that that's what congress should be gearing up to do when it's done so little? i don't think so. the republican party is making a huge mistake. it's not that there shouldn't be tax reform. there should be, but it's real reform. big corporations pay a real rate of 16%. if we were to lower those rates and close loopholes, we'd be doing the economy a favor. as i said, i helped pass that in 1986 once they banned state and local deductibility. if it's simply to give a huge tax cut to the wealthiest people and biggest corporations, the recent polling data has shown the vast majority of americans are against it. they even say a majority of americans say if it means a small tax break for me and a big tax break for the wealthiest,
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i'm not for it. so i'm going to challenge my republican colleagues. go out there and speak plainly and honestly about your plan. don't hide behind fake talking points and fake math. it's a massive tax cut for corporations and the wealthy. defend it. why you think it's a good idea. now, i know some of you truly believe, the senator from pennsylvania, a republican, has spent his lifetime when he was at the club for growth advocating that cutting taxes on the biggest corporations, wealthiest individuals fuels the economy. talk directly about it. i hear the word middle class coming out of our republican colleagues' mouths but not wealthy or big corporations. and let me just say it doesn't prove to be true. corporate tax rate was much lower than the official tax
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rate. according to goldman sachs, our big corporations have more money than they've ever had and are paying a lower tax rate than they ever had and they're not creating jobs. give me one reason why giving them a tax break will now have them start to create jobs when they're already flushed with cash. how about the example of kansas? and i say this particularly to my two friends, both are my friends -- when i see them both in the gym, i used to play basketball with them. my two friends, the senators from kansas. look at what happened to your home state, the home of charles koch. big tax breaks, huge tax breaks will make kansas the growth center of america. what happened? they did huge tax breaks. they predicted that income would go up in the kansas state treasury by 300 million. it went down by 700 million.
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they had to actually consider schools from going five to four days. and job growth? this great engine of job growth? kansas grew last year by .2%. the american economy grew by 1.6%. it was a total flop. kansas not only rejected the proposal by raising taxes after they had cut them so deeply, but they threw out a lot of the more conservative republicans, and there was a rebellion within the republican party itself. so, again, trading middle class deductions for a tax cut for the rich is not a fair trade. raising taxes on so many middle class people so you can pay for tax cuts to the rich makes no sense and it makes no sense particularly now that the scales are tipped more in favor of the wealthy and powerful than ever before. so that's why the american people are now -- that they realize we're getting close here
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and despite all the distracting issues that the president tweets about -- by the way, i hear in the republican caucus he talked about no details in the tax plan. just said get it done. no details. i know why. they're afraid to talk about it. the president may not know the details, but our republican colleagues do. and they're afraid to talk about the details in public. so bottom line, the american people are learning what this plan is about and they don't like what they see. in a recent reuters ipso's poll, fewer than a third of americans supported it. just like health care, i believe that the more americans learn about the plan, the less they will like it. the number low enough as it is in support of the trump tax plan will get lower. and listen to this. in the same poll, nearly two-thirds of republicans said
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deficit reduction was more important than tax cuts for corporations. two-thirds of republicans said deficit reduction was more important than tax cuts for corporations. that's not what the bill says. the poll also showed that three-quarters of republicans said deficit reduction was more important than tax cuts for the wealthy. again, the bill does the opposite. the republican plan balloons the deficit by $1.5 trillion to do those two things, tax cuts for the wealthiest corporations, tax cuts for the rich. the more republicans find out about the plan, the less they'll like it. so in conclusion, as the house debates the senate budget this week, i urge them to consider first and foremost what the plan would mean for their constituents. and i would tell them should they vote down this budget,
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there are a large number of democrat, including the minority leader who want to sit down with republicans and come up with a nice mainstream plan, not a plan to please the thousand wealthiest families in america who have so much say over the republican party and shouldn't. but we want to work with you on a real bipartisan plan. defeat this plan and we will just as we promised on health care and we have. i yield the floor. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: mr. president, i want to thank my colleague and the democratic leader, senator schumer, for his statement on this trump tax plan. he really has summarized, i think, in his statement the concerns many of us have. we're concerned the trump tax plan will do several things. it will cut funds for education in america at a time when we need it now, more than ever, to prepare our people for the jobs
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of the future. it endangers medicare, a program which for almost 50 million americans is critical for the health care that they receive. at the same time, it's going to dramatically increase the deficit. for so long we've heard from the republicans that their number one issue was cutting the deficit. and now they come up with a tax plan which will increase the size of our deficit. and then finally, of course, all this being done to create tax breaks for the wealthy and the biggest corporations in america. here are the simple facts. as a percentage of our gross domestic product, corporate profits in america have never been higher. corporate profits have never been higher. as a percentage of the gross domestic product, corporate federal taxes paid have never been lower. profits never higher. taxes never lower.
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and the trump tax plan says let's cut corporate taxes even more. and then let's cut taxes on the wealthiest people even more. that to me is not a fair tax plan. it is not a fair tax reform. the trump tax plan sadly rewards the biggest corporations and the wealthiest individuals at the cost of cutting education, endangering medicare, and, unfortunately, increasing a deficit to be paid for by our children. the tax break for the wealthiest people in the trump tax plan doesn't go to the rich. it doesn't even go to the very rich. it goes to the super rich, the super rich. whom am i talking about? one-tenth of 1%, highest incomes in america, way beyond the rich. it's not a person who drives a big limousine. it's a person who is never going
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to drive the rest of their lives and owns a big yacht. those folks, one-tenth of 1% get 40% of all the tax breaks in the trump tax plan. that may be good news for the president and his colleagues and friends and even his family. not good news for working americans. to think that we would cut education, endanger medicare and increase the deficit to give that level of income, the wealthiest people in our country, such a tax break is hard to imagine. and, sadly, one of the provisions in the trump tax plan creates an incentive for companies to move jobs overseas because they'll have a lower tax rate if they do. think of that. a president who's told us over and over again we want to, quote, make america great again creates a tax program to incentivize businesses to locate overseas and make their profits overseas. that makes no sense whatsoever.
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but that's the trump tax plan. i'm glad that senator schumer brought that up. i want to mention two other issues and ask permission that they be placed in a separate part in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: first, let me address, if i can, the issue of the dreamers and it's one that i've spoken to many times before. i'd like to address it at this point. on september 5, about seven weeks ago today, attorney general jeff sessions announced the trump administration's repeal of the deferred action for childhood arrivals program better known as daca. daca provided temporary legal status to immigrant students if they registered with the government, paid a fee, went through a criminal background check, and a national security check, and did that on a renewable basis every two years. the young people protected by that executive order known as dreamers. they came to the united states as children, brought here by their parents. they grew up in our schools
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singing our star-spangled banner, pledging allegiance to the only flag they've ever known. seven years ago i asked president obama in a letter that i sent with then republican senator dick lugar to create a program to protect these young people and give them a chance to earn their way into legal status. the president responded to our request and almost 800,000 have signed up. but now with president trump's announcement that he's going to eliminate this program, the clock is ticking. by march 5, 2018, every work day for the following two years, approximately 1,400 of these dreamers protected by daca will lose their work permits and will be subject to deportation, 1,400 a day who signed up on this program as of march 5 next year will hear the clock ticking. teachers will be forced to leave their students. nurses to leave their patients,
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first responders to leave their posts, and soldiers who are willing to fight for their country forced to leave the army if this happens. it's an outcome that none of us want to see, i hope. it isn't just a looming humanitarian crisis, it's economic too. the institute on taxation and economic policy says that daca daca-eligible individuals contributed about $2 billion a year to our economy. they're working. they're going to school. these are productive people who against the odds have succeeded in life and want to do more. the cato institute, no liberal think tank, estimates ending daca and deporting daca recipients would cost $60 billion and result in a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next ten years. poll after poll shows overwhelming bipartisan support for the dreamers. even fox news, no liberal media outlet, recently found 79% of
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americans support a path to citizenship for dreamers, 79%. what percentage of republicans support it? according to the fox poll, 63% of donald trump voters believe that dreamers should be given a chance at citizenship. the answer is clear. we need to pass the dream act. and we need to do it before we leave washington in the next few weeks. it was 16 years ago that i first introduced t we've had our ups and downs. we've passed it sometimes on the floor of the senate and then again in the house of representatives but never quite at the same moment so that it became the law of the land. over the years i've told over 100 stories about the dreamers. this is another one i want to share with you. this is a story about william aderas. when william was six years ago old, his family moved to the united states from brazil. he agree to up in boston, moved to l ifful. in high school he was an honor student, graduated 3.8 g.p.a.
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he was an athlete. played football in high school. he will graduate in the spring of 2019 with a degree in criminal justice. he is working full-time to support himself because he is a daca recipient, he isn't eligible for any federal financial assistance to go to college. he's got to work his way through school, and he's doing t his dream? he wants to be part of america's military. and then after serving his country, he wants to be an officer with his local police department. thanks to daca, he's on his way. last year he enlisted in the army through a program. in this photo he's shown with his recruiter from his enlistment ceremony. this program allows i am grants like him for vital to the national interest to enlist in the armed forces. more than 800 daca recipients with these critical skills, their dream has come true. they've volunteered to serve
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america in our military. now, some trump administration have claimed that daca recipients are taking jobs away from americans. but william and hundreds more like him have vital skills that our military desperately needs and they want hill to serve our country. william, along with many dreamers is now waiting to ship to basic training. he is working full-time waiting for his chance to serve. he wrote me a letter. here's what he said. my desire to serve this nation and help pay back my dues for everything i've received and to lead by example by showing my fellow daca members that anything is possible with hard work, perseverance and dedication. is there any doubt in anyone's mind that this young man william, desperate to serve our country and to be a law enforcement officer, will be an asset to the united states? a source of pride for all of us? of course not. if daca goes away and is not
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replaced, if this young man loses that opportunity, america will lose an opportunity part of its future. i was at the phoenix military academy, one of the six military academies in the chicago public schools just last. i'm proud to say that our chicago public school system hosts the largest rotc program in america. 10,000 cadets from school to school. turns out that many of them are daca dreamers. they want to serve our country just like william. i was joined by colonel daniel baggio, who runs the junior rotc program. he grandfather served in world war i. he certainly understands the role that immigrants have played in our armed forces. william and others have so much to give america. but without the dream act, william and hundreds of other immigrants with skills vital to the national interest will literally be kicked out of the
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army. thousands of junior rotc cadets in chicago will never realize their dream of volunteering to enlist in america's military. they want to serve. they're willing to risk their lives for our country. how can we let them down? when we introduced the dream act, senator lindsey graham, republican of south carolina, said, and i quote, the moment of reckoning is coming. it is coming in a matter of days and weeks. i implore my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, don't let this young man down. don't let the hundreds of thousands down to just want a chance to approve themselves -- to prove themselves and earn their way into legal status. we can do this. many people are skeptical as to whether congress can get anything done on a bipartisan basis. i'm not skeptical. i believe it can. i believe that we can work together. i've been setting down with a lot of conservative republican senators in my office, senators i never dreamed that i would be sitting with, discussing this issue. and now we want to make sure we get this job done. mr. president, i yield the
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floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. cassidy: thank you, mr. president. i ask that if in legislation the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of house concurrent resolution 85, which was received from the house. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: house concurrent resolution 85, providing for a correction in the enrollment of h.r. 2266. the presiding officer: objection? without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. kennedy: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the resolution be agreed to and the the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kennedy: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, as the senate irons out the details of our comprehensive tax reform plan to get the american economy back on track, i want to draw attention today to what i believe is one of the greatest obstacles in our path, as we pursue 3% annual growth. and that obstacle i am referring to, mr. president, is our aging national infrastructure. our roads, our bridges, our airports, our water systems, our soothe systems -- sewage systems, our waterways that need dredging, especially in my state. if our tax plan is going to be pro-growth, then we need to take
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advantage of this once-in-a-generation chance to use federal revenues to invest meaningfully in our economy. allow mae to explaining, mr. president what i mean by that. federal investment in our roads, our bridges, our railways, our waterways would be a shot in the army for the american economy. it would pay dividends for decades. companies need good roads and bridges and shipping channels to transport their products and to ensure that they aren't sitting in traffic for hours. sometimes it seems like days which eats at way at profits and raises costs for our people. but for too long, mr. president, washington's spending priorities have been to grow the federal bureaucracy instead of growing our capacity for economic
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expansion and development through infrastructure upgrades. the result? we know the result. our department of transportation now estimates that we have a backlog of construction and repairs that would cost $926 billion to clear. $1 trillion. and that's just the backlog. i have a simple solution, mr. president, that i would respectfully suggest can get us back on track. according to the congressional research service, $2.6 trillion in corporate profits made by american companies are parked overseas, and some outside
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estimates say $4 trillion to $5 trillion. this money is overseas and it will not be brought back to america as long as our antiqua antiquated corporate tax system is going to charge those american companies 35% in tax just to bring them back. now, congress is already discussing repatriation as a part of the move to a territorial tax system, which would use a competitive tax rate to encourage companies to bring their dollars back to the united states and keep them had and invest them here in american products and american businesses and american employees. when tax reform passes -- and it will -- and we get a one-time surge in tax revenue as a result
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of this $3 trillion to $5 trillion being brought back to the united states, we're only going to get one chance, one shot to spend that money wisely. instead of blowing those repatriated dollars, mr. president, on an already-bloated federal bureaucracy, we ought to invest that money solely and exclusively in desperately needed infrastructure upgrades. even a one-time targeted investment in clearing the infrastructure backlog will create jobs and stimulate our economy for decades. because, let's face it, mr. president -- too many of the american roads today are axle-breaking insults to the 21st tricentury and they're holding our economy back. let me be clear. we're talking about hundreds of billions of dollars flowing into
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infrastructure if we just make good use of those repatriated dollars. for example, just this my state of louisiana this could mean building a new bridge through lake charles. it would mean widening the interstate in baton rouge. it could mean closing the gaps in i-49 between lafayette and shreveport and new orleans. we've neglected our highways and bridges for far too long, mr. president, and this is our chance to use tax reform to catch up, to boost our international competitiveness, to lower costs for consumers, and to put our economy back on track to 3-plus percent growth, which the american people expect and deserve. thank you, mr. president. i suggest the absence of a remain q. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. without objection.
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quorum call: the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion. we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of scott l. palk of oklahoma to be united states district judge for the western district of oklahoma, signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of scott l. palk of oklahoma to be united states district judge for the western district of oklahoma shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll.
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 79, 9 nays are 18. the motion is agreed to.
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mr. lankford: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: mr. president, i rise to speak to the senate about a nominee that's currently in front of this body. for the next few hours we should vote on. we just finish add cloture vote to actually start 30 hours of debate which in the past we wouldn't have had 30 hours of debate for a district court nominee, especially a district court nominee like this. this would have been something that would have been done by consent. we would have a vote on this individual rather than burning up 30 hours of time on debate on a single individual that just passed a cloture vote 79-18.
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this is into the controversial nominee -- this is not a controversial nominee. let me introduce you a little bit to scott palk. scott palk was actually reported out of the judiciary committee june 15 of this year. he was nominated by president trump may 8. so he's been pending since june 15 to get a vote on this floor because of the ongoing delays for each nominee as we go through the process. why do i say scott palk is not a controversial nominee? it is not just the fact that he just passed this cloture vote 79-18. scott palk, if you remember his name in this body, was also a nominee of president obama for the western court of oklahoma. he's now a nominee from president trump as a nominee for the western district court of oklahoma. there may be five things total that president obama and president trump agree on. scott palk is one of those five. this is not a controversial nominee, and he will be a great judge for us, and he'll also be
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a great judge in western oklahoma. he currently serves as the assistant dean for students and the assistant general counsel at the university of oklahoma college of law in nor manned, oklahoma. he has these strong support -- he has the strong support of the president of the university of oklahoma, who happens to be former senator david boren, a democrat senator from this border, who is now leading the university of oklahoma and has done had a for the past two decades. he is also strongly behind this nominee as well. scott palk joined the university of oklahoma college of law after 19 years of public service as a state and federal prosecutor. he graduated in 1992 from the o.u. college of law where he ink terned for district 21 district attorneys office. after graduating, passing the bar, he became an assistant district foreigner for cleveland county where he prosecuted a variety of crimes a understand
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death penalty cases. in 1994 he became the multicounty drug task force coordinator, initiating the district's first wire interception drug investigation, coordinating federal and local resources, culminating i in the prosecution of a multicounty methamphetamine organization. he was awarded prosecutor of the year in 1993. in 199 he became the first assistant district attorney for district 21n. and served in a dual prosecutorial and administrative role. in 2002, he joined the united states attorneys office in the western district of oklahoma where we're pushing him to be a judge now as an assistant u.s. attorney prosecuting violent crimes, gangs and domestic terrorism he became the deputy criminal chief of the u.s. attorneys office and served in the adribble roles of violent crime, national coordinator, and the terrorism coordinator and
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crisis management coordinator in 2004. that same year the oklahoma gang investigators association awarded him prosecutor of the year. the executive office of the united states attorneys office awarded him directors award for superior performance. in 2005, he was awarded the certificate of appreciation for outstanding contributions in the field of drug law enforcement. in his most recent roles, he supervised administrative staff and assisted u.s. attorney generals hand ago criminal caseload primarily consisting of national security and organized crimes. coordinating efforts with the f.b.i. joint terrorism task force, the f.b.i. foreign counterintelligence squad. s he worked on national security matters including both traditional criminal investigations as well as investigating utilizing provisions of the foreign intelligence surveillance act. in 2011, the f.b.i. awarded him
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a certificate of appreciation for assistance? the joint terrorism task force. scott palk is eminently qualified there are this task. he shouldn't be a controversial nominee, and he should already be a judge. we're missing three judges in the western strict of oklahoma -- district of oklahoma. president trump nominated him on may 8, and it's now the end of oklahoma when we can finally get him to the floor to be able to move him. this delay tactic, this stalling tactic that's out there, this resist movement to try to prevent the president of the united states from getting had is staff and every agency and to prevent judge that from being able to go on the bench, it is a delay of good people that are not controversial to be able to do the job needed in each district. an individual that passed 79-18 son a open -- 79-18 on a cloture
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vote. and i am confident will not consume the next 30 hours. that hours will now expire as we sit in silence on the senate floor waiting for us to be able to have a final vote. just delays. i've made a proposal to my colleagues. it's not a radical proposal. quite frankly, it was proposal in 2013, first proposed by harry reid to be able to move the n.o.m. nomination's time periods 306 hours of just wasted time on the senate the floor to two hours -- two hours for district court, two hours for the deputy assistant secretary of whatever agency it may be, having two hours of debate. these were individuals that have already gone through committee, already gone through extensive vetting and most certainly will pass because a simple majority needed to pass these individuals. so it's also due to the same rule on time. instead of 30 hours of wasted
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time on the floor when we could do other things for the american people, let's go back to the two-hour agreement that we had in the past. it was a simple rule of two hours for individuals like district courts and other individuals and agencies, eight hours for higher-tier individuals such as a circuit court and such, 030 hours for cabinet officials. i don't think that's an unreasonable request to be able it make. it is a rule that we've done in the past and it is a rule that we need to go back to. the american people are frustrated with the block in timing on moving people, especially people with wide bipartisan support. no one understands why someone that president obama nominated and president trump nominated has to take up 30 hours of time on the floor on debate. -- when no one will really even debate him. and it's certain what the outcome will be. the american people are expecting us to actually debate
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and to engage in issues. so i recommend again to this body, let's go back to the harry reid rule, two hours of debate for individuals like this in district courts, eight hours of debate for higher-tier courts, and 30 hours of debate for cabinet officials and the supreme court. we can do that again. we've done that in the past. and i'd recommend we move back to that not just for a single congressional body but a change in rules in the senate so permanently we're able to be more functional again. for a body that is dysfunctional can be fixed by its own members. moving to us a functional set of rules. that's what i would hope that we would achieve in the a head. i look forward to voting for scott palk whenever we finish with a 30-hour clock of time of wasted time to be able to move on a nominee and see a wide bipartisan support again for a good nominee. scott is going to do a great job on the benches. we need him there. with that, i yield back.
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mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. i come to the floor today to talk about what my bipartisan health care bill with chairman alexander means for the people we are all here to serve, what it means for patients and families in my home state of washington, and across the country who are worried about being able to afford the health care they need, and what it means for states and communities and hospitals that are administering and providing care. you know, negotiations of this magnitude are always tough. there's some things you agree on. sometimes there's common ground that emerges early. but there is no question you also find areas of strong disagreement. and so you have to work your way to each answer step by step. now, one issue that chairman alexander and i agreed on from the very start of our negotiations where we worked or
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hardest and what we had the most discussions on was the goal of putting patients and families first and that it would be families who would benefit as much as possible from our efforts to restore stability to our markets. that was the crux our debate. it was our guiding star. and i'm very proud to say our bipartisan bill does just that, because here's what's at stake, mr. president. here's what we know. patients and families across the country are looking ahead to next year. they are rightly worried about their health care, premiums, benefits, coverage, and they are realizing they're about to pay the price for the uncertainty and partisanship we've seen on health care over the last nine months. like all my colleagues, i have listened and i've talked with many of these families in my home state at hospitals and schools and roundtables, in meeting with patients and doctors and providers and
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veterans, and they've all made it very clear -- enough is enough with playing politics with people's health care. now, mr. president, here is how our bipartisan bill would protect those families and restore certainty to the markets. i will go into -- i won't go into all the details, of course, but i do want to focus on some really important points. first of all, this bill would restore the out-of-pocket cost reduction payments that president trump has announced he's going to be ending, for this year as well as 2018 and 2019. that means that some serious sabotage, something experts say would raise premiums by double digits for millions of families would be off the table. secondly, this bill will make significant investments when it comes to health care outreach and enrollment to make sure that families know about their insurance options. and third, this bill makes some changes to give our states more
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flexibility when it comes to developing plans and offering options, while maintaining essential health benefits like maternity care or people with preexisting conditions or the elderly. and all this while making sure that costs go down for families and preventing insurers from double-dipping and padding their profits with both cost reduction payments and higher premiums. so put simply, this bill is an important step in the right direction to prevent premium increases, to stabilize health care, and push back against president trump's recent actions. this bill reflects the input of patients, governors, state commissioners, experts, and advocates, and it has a strong support from a majority here in the senate. so far, 20 senators, 12 democrats, 12 republicans have cosponsored this bill, and i know there are a lot of others
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who agree we need to act and that we must do so working together under regular order like our bill rather than doubling down on partisanship and dysfunction. so, mr. president, i am focused on moving our bill forward as quickly as possible, and i certainly hope the majority leader will listen to the members on both sides of this aisle who also want this bill to be brought up for a vote without delay. now, let me be clear. as this bill moves forward, i'm certainly open to changes that expand access to quality care, that put families ahead of insurers, and maintain those core patient protections that i have been clear all along have to be protected. i'm certainly not interested in changing our bipartisan agreement to move health care in the wrong direction. chairman alexander and i have a record of seeing tough legislation through to the end, whether it was k-12 education or f.d.a. user fees or mental
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health reform or opioid use disorders, which is why i am confident we can do the same with this stabilization bill. we have negotiated a strong agreement that has the support of 60 senators and growing. the president has expressed his support for our effort, and so i see no reason why we should not move this bill through the senate, get it signed into law, and then continue the partisan discussion on health care in the country. now, mr. president, i also want to take some time today to talk about another pressing health care challenge, and that is the immediate need to extend federal funding for the historically bipartisan expired primary cliff programs like community health center fund, national health service corps, and of course children's health insurance program, or chip. it's now been almost 25 days since federal funding of these primary care cliff programs and chip were allowed to expire by the republican majority, and in that time, i have heard from
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thousands of people in my state and nationwide urging congress to act, and each day that passes is a day we are failing to meet our commitment to these families and putting the health and well-being of nearly nine million children, including more than 60,000 in my home state of washington, and the 25 million patients who get care from the community health centers at great harm and great risk. mr. president, in washington state, like so many other states, notices to families about gaps in their children's health care are about to go out as soon as december 1, and in my state, we will run out of federal funds for chip in november. so let me be clear. parents in my home state and across the country should not be up at night worrying about their child's health care because congress can't get the job done. that is so unacceptable. so, mr. president, there is a bipartisan deal in the senate right now negotiated between the chairman and ranking member of
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the finance committee that would provide certainty for this vital program. i understand that extreme house republicans have chosen instead to run an irresponsible path and trying to ram through a partisan bill that will jeopardize the efforts in the senate and in the house to come to an agreement as soon as possible. so, mr. president, to be clear, this delay has not been without serious consequences, but we can still act. it's up to republican leaders now to reverse course, come to the table, join with democrats to get this done. it shouldn't have to be said, but there should not be anyplace for partisanship or politics when it comes to protecting the children and families we represent, so i hope we get this done and get it done quickly, and i hope all of our members will move forward on this. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: i see the senator from new hampshire on the floor. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. alexander: i ask to vitiate the quorum call, please. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: i see the senator from new hampshire on the floor. i ask through the chair if she is about to speak or if i could go after. what i would like to do is give a brief report on the congressional budget office report of the alexander-murray proposal that the senator from new hampshire is the cosponsor of. i'd like to do that either before or after she speaks. either one will be fine. mrs. shaheen: mr. president, my understanding is that senator cornyn was about to come to the floor, but i would be happy to have you give the c.b.o. report on this legislation, which i very enthusiastically support.
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mr. alexander: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: respecting senator cornyn's prerogative, when he comes, i will stop. senator murray, i believe, has come to the floor and reported that the congressional budget office has just finished an evaluation of the alexander- murray proposal to the united states senate that would be for the purpose of reducing premiums and avoiding chaos in the individual insurance market during the years 2018 and 2019. the senator from new hampshire is a strong sponsor of that legislation. it is unusual in the fact that it has 12 republican senators and 12 democratic senators. not many pieces of legislation come to the floor with that support. and the reason we accelerated work on it was that president trump called me and asked me to work with senator murray to try to develop such a proposal. so now it's being considered by the president, by the house of representatives, by other members of this body. when an important piece of
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legislation, as senator murray has said, is what does the congressional budget office say about the impact of our proposal on the federal taxpayer and on the consumers across the country? now, president trump has made it very clear that one thing he wants to make sure is that we don't bail out insurance companies if in 2018 we pay cost-sharing payment reductions, which are payments, to pay for deductibles and co-pays for low-income americans. i 100% agree with president trump on that. senator murray 100% agrees with president trump on that. we have language in our proposal to make sure that benefits go to consumers and to taxpayers and not to insurance companies, and we asked the congressional budget office to review that, and this is what they said. quote -- on that, the c.b.o. and the safe of the joint committee on taxation estimate that implementing the legislation would reduce the deficit by
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$3.8 billion over 2018-2017 period relative to c.b.o.'s baseline. in other words, the alexander-murray proposal would reduce federal spending by $3.8 billion. not only does it not cost anything, it saves the taxpayer money. and then just add a second thing. c.b.o. and j.c.t. -- and this is quoting the congressional budget office -- expect that insurers in almost all areas of the country would be required to issue some form of rebate to individuals and the federal government. let me say that again. this is the c.b.o. talking, the nonpartisan congressional budget office. the alexander-murray proposal cosponsored by a total of 24 senators, 12 republicans, 12 democrats, quote, c.b.o. and j.c.t. expect that insurers in almost all areas of the country would be required to issue some form of rebate to individuals
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and the federal government. so the congressional budget office has found that our proposal benefits taxpayers and benefits consumers, not insurance companies. the specific benefit to the taxpayers is $3.8 billion. the exact benefit to consumers isn't determined yet because that will be state by state. under our proposal, every state would come up with a plan to say in 2018, because of lower -- because of the cost-sharing payments, rates, premium rates need to be lower than they are already set. and then in that state, they would be, and as a result, there would be rebates to individuals. c.b.o. also found that making the -- there is a provision in the law for a catastrophic plan. that is a new insurance plan for
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people over the age of 29 that would have lower premiums and higher deductibles, but it would allow people to afford an insurance policy so a medical catastrophe didn't turn into a financial catastrophe. c.b.o. estimates that making catastrophic plans part of a single risk pool would slightly lower premiums for other nongroup plans because the people who enroll in catastrophic plans tend to be healthier on average than other nongroup market enrollees. so a major objective, i think, of all of us is to attract more young, healthy people into the pool as a way of lowering rates for everybody. as a result of the slightly lower estimated premiums, c.b.o. and j.c.t. expect that federal costs for subsidies purchased through marketplaces established under the affordable care act would decline bybo


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